“Common Ground”?

My local newspaper published an opinion piece by Tom Ehrich (4/21), “Something in Common.” Erich professed a wish to “reach across the aisle” to tea party activists. “I suggest,” he says, “we put down the vicious placards and actually talk to each other.”

Yet his own essay includes this show-stopper: if tea partiers got their wish for smaller government, “the prosperous would intensify their war on the poor and middle class.”

Look in the mirror, Tom. It’s an all too common pathology — admonishing political adversaries for extreme and divisive rhetoric — while in the next breath demonizing them with equally extreme and divisive rhetoric.

For the record, I happen to know a lot of quite prosperous people, and not one is waging “war on the poor and middle class.” Most indeed seek policies that would help everyone — especially the disadvantaged.

Tom, you can’t find “common ground” with someone whose motives you’re attacking. This must stop. Most of us want what’s best for society; we just disagree about how to get there.

Further regarding tea party rhetoric, the same 4/21 newspaper published a letter to the editor by an Al Harris mocking references to “that other socialist,” Hitler. Harris says, “Here I’d been thinking since 1938 that Hitler was a fascist.” In point of fact, “Nazi” was short for “National Socialist,” the party’s formal name. Because the left is so fond of labelling opponents “fascist” we’ve been confuzzled into thinking that fascism and socialism/communism are opposites — extreme right versus extreme left. In truth they’re birds of a feather, both entailing a high degree of government control over society. The true opposite to both is a society where government’s role is limited and opportunities are maximized for all people to pursue happiness in their own ways.

Many (like Mr. Harris) dismiss use of the word “socialism” in U.S. political debate, as simply ridiculous. Socialism refers to government, rather than private, ownership and management of business enterprises. A lot of Democrats have advocated a “single payer” health care system, where government would displace privately run insurance companies. They may not like the label (for good reasons), but that’s textbook socialism.

One Response to ““Common Ground”?”

  1. Lee Says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that too many people who attempt (or claim they are attempting) to reach across the aisle are at least as guilty of “negative politics” as those they oppose. Unfortunately, I fear that this is becoming more and more common. Speeches like Obama’s one in Cairo had me hoping that a more reasonable, actual dialogue could be possible, but I am disappointed that Obama hasn’t done better at continuing in that vein.

    I am somewhat ignorant of the historical significance of the word “socialism” — perhaps that is why I don’t have the dislike of the term that I perceive that you have. As I have mentioned here in this very forum, I appreciate the police, fire fighters, armed forces, road builders, etc., all of which I perceive as positive, and all of which I perceive as socialism. If this is socialism, I don’t see the problem with it. In fact, I think that adding medical care to the mix, via a single payer system, is more of the same, positive socialism.

    However, if socialism necessarily includes taking over the means of production in industries outside of these basic, universal services, then please count me among those who are opposed to it.

    That Hitler called himself a socialist and a vegetarian does not make me dislike socialism or vegetarianism. “An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.” (Don Marquis).

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